Christian magistrate fired for sharing views on gay adoption loses appeal

Former magistrate Richard Page | YouTube/ Christian Concern

An appeals court has upheld the firing of a British magistrate for telling media that he believes adopted children are better off with a mother and father instead of same-sex couples. The Christian man says he will take his case to the Supreme Court.

Richard Page, who is from the Headcorn area of England’s Kent County, was suspended by the NHS in 2016, a year after he shared on national television his Christian views on parenting following a same-sex adoption case.

“The basis on which he was dismissed was entirely lawful and involved no breach of his human rights,” said Lord Justice Underhill of the Court of Appeal on Friday, according to BBC.

“The extent to which it is legitimate to expect a person holding a senior role in a public body to refrain from expressing views which may upset a section of the public is a delicate question … The issue raised by this case is not about what beliefs such a person holds but about the limits on their public expression,” the judge added, according to Christian Concern.

Lord Justice Jackson said Page was not free from bias. “A child's future is to be decided on the evidence before the court and in accordance with the law ... It is not open to individual judges to superimpose their own beliefs, however sincerely held.”

Page called it “another deeply concerning ruling from the courts against Christian freedoms.”

“I intend to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court,” he said.

The Christian Legal Centre, which supported Page, also called it “an unfair and chilling decision.”

“The judgment sends a direct message to Christian public servants that if they allow their beliefs to influence their decision-making while in public office, they must self-censor and be silent, and are ultimately unfit for that office,” the group’s chief executive Andrea Williams remarked.

Williams noted that this is the first time the Court of Appeal has “endorsed the perverse distinction between unlawful discrimination for Christian beliefs and lawfully dismissing someone for offending an LGBT audience by expressing those beliefs.”

“This is simply an artificial way to exclude Christian beliefs from the protection of the law. Nobody would get away with applying a similar distinction to any other protected characteristic. You would not get away with dismissing a homosexual for coming out as a homosexual, and then saying: ‘we duly respect your sexual orientation as long as you keep it to yourself,’” she added.

"This ruling provides a green light for employers to punish Christian employees who do not fall in line with and unquestionably support LGBT ideology."

Page had worked for the NHS for over two decades before becoming a part-time director in 2012. After his suspension, he reapplied for his role as a part-time non-executive director but was denied. In August 2016, Page was told that an NHS panel ruled that “it was not in the interests of the health service for [him] to serve.”

In October 2017, a three-judge panel at the Croydon Employment Tribunal ruled against Page, saying he wasn’t turned away from employment because of his religious beliefs but because he voiced his religiously motivated beliefs on parenting on national television.

The role at the NHS wasn't the only thing Page lost because he voiced his beliefs. He also lost his position as a magistrate with the Maidstone and Sevenoaks courts because of his comments on television.

“My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adopted parents,” Page told the BBC in 2015.

During his legal battle earlier, Page said in a video posted by the Christian Legal Centre that he was simply trying to “glorify God.”

“We’re not here to look after me,” he said. “I ask people to pray that whatever happens, it actually does glorify God.”

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